Playing Catch-Up

Playing Catch-Up

Graphic by Connie zhou ’12

It is 7:30 a.m. on the first day of school in 2008, and the bell has just rung. Hannah Bjornson ’11 takes a seat in her Biology Honors class and waits for class to begin. As a new sophomore to Staples High School, Bjornson is required to take classes that she did not complete while at her old high school. Although she is a sophomore, in order to graduate, she will need to take classes that are primarily for freshmen.

This scenario is not unusual; most students who transfer to Staples go through this process to fulfill graduation requirements. It does not matter what grade the transfer student is in, if classes have not been completed, they need to be taken.

“It wasn’t that hard just because I only had one class that was with freshman and not sophomores and the freshmen were nice, but it was still kind of lonely,” Bjornson said.

Moving to a new high school and then not even having classes with students in the same grade can be difficult, but Staples students do not see it as a social issue.

“You are forced to make new friends, but after doing that with all of my other classes as a new student, it wasn’t a challenge for me,” Alix Neenan ’12 who is currently taking chemistry as a junior, said.

Some students believe that being stuck in this situation has caused some problems with their teachers. For projects and group activities, issues can occur when forced to work alongside younger students.

“The teacher ends up grouping you in with the younger kids and treats you as a younger student, which can be frustrating,” Spencer Fox ’11 who took U.S. History Honors as a junior, said.

Melanie Mignucci ’12 who is also taking chemistry this year also finds being the oldest in a class to be a struggle.

“It can be frustrating being in a class when there are a bunch of younger kids that just won’t stop talking,” Mignucci said.

The major setbacks a student can encounter are not being prepared for the class material and the opportunity to take Advanced Placement classes.

“When I took Biology last year, it was difficult because all the students had taken science in 8th grade, but my freshman year at Fairfield Prep I didn’t take a science so they knew more of the material,” said Elliott Enriquez ’12.

Later on in a student’s high school career, adding A.P. classes to their schedules can become another challenge.

“I had to take chemistry A over the summer in order to catch up with the rest of our grade. Since I wanted to be able to take A.P. Environmental my junior year, I really didn’t have a choice,” said Bjornson.

Like Bjornson who wanted to be able to take these upper level classes, Chris Lueb ’12 finds fitting all the required classes into her schedule very stressful. Since she will need to take all of the required classes first, her class load as a senior may be intense.

“I will have a very busy schedule next year; I only have two years to finish all the required classes,” said Lueb, who moved to Westport this past summer.

Guidance Counselor Ed Hydic agrees that being a transfer student can be extremely demanding. He stated that if students want to take the A.P. classes that are offered, they might also need to double up on classes to accomplish fulfill requirements.

Although students see numerous disadvantages with being the oldest in a class, there are also possible advantages that come with it, too.

“It is easier to learn in the environment [where you’re the oldest] because I’m not distracted by having people my age in the class,” said Mignucci said.

While it may seem confusing and stressful in the beginning, all Staples students, no matter if they have transferred or not, are able to take advantage of all the classes offered. The guidance department will do everything to accommodate each student and to make sure that they are able to take advantage of everything they want before graduating.